Paul Cauthen + Fenella + Julen Santamaria, Broadcast, Glasgow, 17th June 2019

Last time Texan Paul Cauthen was around these parts he was riding solo but this first date of a short UK tour found him with a posse of armed and dangerous Dallas cowboys well able to kick up a ruckus and lay down some deadly country music. With Rolling  Stone debuting Cauthen’s audacious video for ‘Cocaine Country Dancing‘, the first song to be released from his forthcoming ‘Room 41’ album, just a few days before the show, appetites were whetted for the full band experience and we were not disapointed.

An imposing figure with an impressive voice, rooted in that barrel chested Waylon/Cash tradition, Cauthen sounds ferocious on stage but before the gig he was wandering around the venue introducing himself and shaking hands with the punters, thanking them for coming. Later on he stopped a song midway to ask two chaps chattering away if they wanted to come on stage and share their conversation. Then, after finishing the song, he shared that he had been asked to quieten down at a Bela Fleck gig some years back so, point made, but no hard feelings, guys.

Much of the set was composed of songs from his debut album, ‘My Gospel’, and last year’s EP ‘Have Mercy’ but they kicked off with ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ which will be on the new album. Slamming into the beat with Cauthen’s voice  given a ghostly reverb, it showed off his debt to Johnny Cash’s later recordings while the stone cold country rock of ‘Still Drivin’‘ showed that he has one foot at least in the outlaw tradition of Waylon Jennings. The band (bass, drums, guitar and keyboard) flexed their muscles somewhat as the show  progessed with ‘Have Mercy’ erupting in a welter of splendid guitar heroics over some tremendous drumming while the loping country rock of ‘Saddle’ had some Grateful Dead like noodling towards the end. Meanwhile there was an almost Stax like groove on ‘Resignation’ with chicken scratch guitar as Cauthen whistled, hummed and cackled on an intoxicating song.

Cauthen introduced, ‘She’s Gone‘, saying, “I didn’t kill a woman and tie her to the railroad tracks, or did I?” before launching into a splendid murder ballad sounding like a Texas version of Nick Cave while another of Cauthen’s influences, Roy Orbison, hoved into sight on the swelling vocals of ‘Tumbleweed’. Cauthen and his band rode the country with a perfect end to the set as the Tupelo flash slinkiness of ‘My Cadillac’ flowed into the sinewy barrelhouse roustabout of ‘Cocaine Country Dancing‘ with Cauthen even showing off some of his nifty moves from the video. It was a splendid end to what had been an up-close glimpse of hard rocking country music and we’re certainly looking forward to the new album.

The support on the night was from two local artists. First up was Julen Santamaria, a member of Glasgow’s answer to Pokey Lafarge, the band Awkward Family Portraits. A slight young chap dressed in some cool thrift shop attire, he delivered some very assured old time styled songs including the excellently named ‘Miss Taylor’s Tinfoil Treasure’ along with a sure-fire brain worm called  ‘Don’t Drink Whisky, It’s Risky‘. Fenella, a boy/girl/guitar combo, were less sure footed with songs which hovered between torch ballads, theatric Brecht/Weill wordiness and Kate Bush romanticism. There’s promise there as in the goth noir of ‘Pretty Abbey’s Mantra’ but overall they were a bit like a fish out of water tonight.

 

Author: Paul Kerr

Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.

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